Blog of the Week: Dagne Zvinklyte - The Open College of the Arts
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Blog of the Week: Dagne Zvinklyte

Blogs slowly develop over time, post by post, so it takes a while to see them developing into an interconnected body of work, reflections, and links that narrate a student’s learning journey.  So its great when you come across a blog that has been slowly maturing over time. Tutor Raymond Tomin has shared one such blog, showing the work of Dagne Zvinklyte‘s engagement with the Graphic Design 1 course –
Dagne’s blog is a well-rounded document of her development as a learner and as a graphic designer. It provides a structured insight into her creative thinking and working process, provides a showcase for her work, makes links to the inspiration around her, and presents an honest and critical self-reflection on her exercises, assignments, and wider sense of learning graphic design.
Blogs are publicly facing documents, so it’s easy to start filtering what goes on there. After all you might not want to share what ends up in the creative bin. However, from a tutor’s perspective seeing the mistakes, the failed attempts, and the creative repetitions is incredibly useful in getting to grips with how students actually work and think. Refreshingly, Dagne’s blog shows the whole creative process, with rough thumbnail drawings quickly describing her visual thinking as she works through variant designs and possible ideas. The inclusion of annotated handwritten notes and crossed out versions reinforces this idea of a non-linear design process being followed. Her best solutions are emerging out of a pool of potential ideas.
Graphic designers can sometimes have an uneasy relationship with sketchbooks. Sketchbooks can be perceived as a place for a particular kind of drawing. Dagne’s blog shows drawing as the functional visualising of ideas, not the sitting and sketching you might more readily associate with how an illustrator might use a sketchbook. If we interpret the idea of the sketchbook as a place for recording and researching ideas by testing them out, then for graphic designers the sketchbook is both physical and digital. Things are still doodled and drawn but equally research and testing takes place within software and needs to be documented in a different way. It’s great to see Dagne embrace this way of working showing the development of her ideas through photography, drawing and painting as well as digitally. All linked conveniently under the tag ‘from my sketchbook’ giving the sense that the sketchbook is a document in it’s own right.
The key component to any successful learning log is providing a self-reflecting narrative that makes sense of all the exercises, research tasks, and responses to assignments. Dagne achieves this by regularly reflecting on the choices she’s made and critiquing her own work. At the end of each assignment she’s posted a wider self-evaluation that honestly picks up on what’s worked and what hasn’t in each part of the course, and how these insights feed into her growing sense of being a creative practitioner.

Posted by author: Christian Lloyd
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9 thoughts on “Blog of the Week: Dagne Zvinklyte

  • Great blog. I do agree with the sentiment that graphic designers often have an uneasy relationship with sketchbooks. This is often because a lot of designers think they can’t draw – and don’t understand that a sketchbook is for working out ideas. Others have an uncomfortable relationship with sketchbooks because it can be seen as a luxury to sit and draw. I work as a freelance designer and often when I sketch it is not regarded as ‘work’ – a lot of clients and agencies simply don’t understand the creative process so pressure is put on you to do layouts in photoshop / illustrator / indesign without working out your ideas first.

  • I agree this is a brilliant blog. However it does highlight my confusion over blogs and why I have never set one up myself. When we start a course with OCA we are told to produce (and submit for assessment) three separate types of work – Finished Work; Sketchbook; and Learning Log. I am clear in my mind the differences and what goes where, but a Blog seems to contain all three. As far as I can see this either leads to a very hefty amount of work for the assessors to sift through to find a specific type of work they are looking for (ie Learning Log type of information)or a duplication of work on the part of the student in maintaining their traditional hard copy Log and the Blog (a lot of time that I would rather spend actually producing work). I originally thought a Blog could be used as a Learning Log, but without being able to see the work referred to it would be a boring read and pointless. So I guess until someone can identify to me any benefits of keeping a Blog I will not be keeping one myself!!

    • I can see how blogs can become confusing, especially when thinking about your work as a series of different components such as the learning log, development work and finished pieces.
      However, it’s worth seeing the blog as a document of the whole creative process where these different activities are informing one another. From an assessment perspective I need to see activities that are reflective (your learning log), that demonstrate research (development work) and present your finished pieces. They don’t all necessarily have to be contained in separate documents. In sketchbooks may students reflect as they go, writing notes along the way, or summarise their thoughts at the end. The same goes for blogs. Tagging items under different topics does make it easier, so tutors can find things, and it may help students think about the different things they are doing.
      In terms of benefits, they’re much easier to make links out to the world, use moving image and audio, and allow other people to look at and comment on your work. You might keep a blog for those reasons, but also keep notebooks, files and sketchbooks for other reasons.
      Finding out how you work, how best to document what you do, and how you integrate reflection into your creative process is all part and parcel of the learning process. For some people blogs work and for others they don’t, but the only way to find out is to test different ways of working and documenting what you do.

      • Thanks for this Christian. Some interesting points and taggging items under different topics is a good idea, something I hadn’t thought of but I can see how this would help. One other point, two of my tutors preferred to have a hard copy Learning Log rather than electronic, so using a blog would probably not suit some tutors. However I am just finishing my third level 1 module and might try using a blog for level 2 – you have convinced me to have a go!! Thanks again.

        • I’m glad I’ve managed to convince you to give it a go Sharon! But as you’ve pointed out what goes for students also goes for tutors, some tutors just don’t like working with blogs. It has to be said that reading a whole blog can be an arduous task. One way around this is by producing a short summary at the end of the course which picks up on your key learning log points, a kind of overall description of the journey and evaluation. That can really speed things up.

        • As I finished my final assignment for Level1 in December I decided to have a few weeks break before Level2. Decided to convert my lovely formatted Word based Learning Log into a blog as means of trying it out I now know a bit about how to use WordPress and how not too! It’s very wordy and next time I will use my notes as notes not change them to proper sentences. Worked out how to use it so my comments are in chronological order, not reverse, which I prefer. Very useful exercise to carry out when not having the pressure of meeting assignment deadlines!!

  • Very interesting discussion.
    When I started I also had difficulties how to organise three separate types of work – Finished Work; Sketchbook; and Learning Log. The tagging system was my first answer to this, and also I plan to prepare the separate post for assessment with organised links leading to those three different types of work. However for me it is still hard to separate Sketchbook and Learning Log.
    I chose to set up a blog because I have a very strong need for organisation and logics and to display images and text in an orderly fashion following the sequence in the course material found no better option than blog.

  • I found a blog quite difficult when I started out but now it has become my outlet for everything to do with my progress through my course. I have it well categorised and will refine further as I need to. I don’t put all my sketchbook work on it, in fact not much of it is there as I post hard copy to my tutor. So far this has been working well but I know that various sketchbook trials should also be reflected in my blog/learning log. I’m improving all the time and by looking at other students blogs I get a better understanding of what works, what is easy to navigate and what seems to confuse me.
    I guess I’m treating it as another part of the course I need to learn.

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